Bumps, Bruises and Bowouts
Davante Adams – Head
Taylor Gabriel – Concussion
Eddie Royal – Toe
Ben Roethlisberger – Torn MCL
LeSean McCoy – Leg (returned)
Odell Beckham – Hip (returned)
Dwayne Allen – Ankle
Luke Wilson – Knee
Philip Dorsett – Hamstring
The Panthers and the Cowboys both take their bye this week and we always knew one would be licking their wounds with a 1-5 start and the other would be 5-1 thanks to a young, mobile quarterback. We were just wrong about which one was which. This week marks the middle of the regular fantasy season in most leagues and yet there continues to be change. The injuries are getting lighter and those monster games are becoming more and more frequent. There were 12 players with at least two touchdowns and eight that gained at least 160 total rushing and receiving yards.
Big Ben Out
The Steelers lost Ben Roethlisberger for at least one game if not more. He tore the MCL in his left knee and is certain to miss this week against the Patriots. After the Week 8 bye, his status will depend on his recovery. Landry Jones will step in but he has just two career starts and was limited to only 168 yards versus the Cardinals and 209 yards in Kansas City during Weeks 6 and 7 of 2015. All three of his touchdowns were caught by Martavis Bryant though and Antonio Brown was held to only 24 yards by the Cardinals. He caught six passes for 124 yards the next week against the Chiefs. At home, the Steelers will seek to establish the run more this week.
The Ravens fired their offensive coordinator Marc Trestman after a poor showing in Week 5 in the 16-10 loss to the Redskins. While they eventually lost to the Giants, the changes were already apparent in Week 6. Terrance West rushed for five yards per carry this season but only once was allowed more than 12 carries in a game when he was given 21 attempts versus the Raiders. In the first week with new offensive coordinator Marty Morinwheg and West rushed 23 times to gain 87 yards and two touchdowns. He caught a career high four passes for 36 yards as well. Joe Flacco did not score, but he passed for a season high 307 yards including more deep throws that included a 70-yard catch by Mike Wallace and a 41-yard reception by Brett Perriman. The switch benefited West the most, but deeper passing will play into Wallace’s strengths as well.
Welcome Back… Sort of…
Jamaal Charles (Chiefs) – After receiving just two carries in Week 4 and then resting up during the Chiefs bye, Charles finally returned to the field and game plan. He would rush nine times for 33 yards and a touchdown plus catch two passes for 14 more yards. But Spencer Ware remained the primary back with 24 carries for 131 yards and a score plus two receptions for 32 yards. They even let 346 lb. defensive tackle Dontari Poe catch a backwards pass and rush in a score. There should be plenty of more opportunities for Charles to increase his workload with the next opponents of the Saints, Colts and Jaguars. But Ware is already more than adequate and there’s no driving need to install Charles as the heavy-use back.
Arian Foster (Dolphins) – He lasted only one game, but Arian Foster turned in a total of 100 yards in the season opener in Seattle thanks to 62 yards on three receptions. But he injured his hamstring in the next game and spent three full weeks recuperating. His much anticipated return was against the visiting Steelers and he was only given three carries to gain three yards plus added two catches for 12 more yards. But Jay Ajayi went from his season high of only 42 rushing yards to carrying 25 times for a career best 204 yards and two touchdowns. His previous best was just 48 yards in Week 10 of last year. With the Bills and Jets up next along with a Week 8 bye, Foster’s outlook takes a major hit.
Colin Kaepernick (49ers) – The 49ers swapped out Blaine Gabbert for Kaepernick after losing four straight games but traveling to Buffalo was not likely to turn the team’s fortunes around. He only completed 13 of 29 passes and while he ended with 187 passing yards, 53 of those yards came on the lone touchdown pass. Kaepernick rushed for 66 yards on eight runs but no other 49er turned in a relevant fantasy day. The 49ers lone consistent weapon of Carlos Hyde had rushed for six touchdowns on the season and turned in around 80 total yards in all but one game.
Hyde was not only limited to a season low 14 carries that gained 52 yards, but he was never targeted as a receiver. The previous week he caught six passes for 36 yards in the loss to the Cardinals. Kaepernick catches a break though with the next two opponents of the Buccaneers and Saints as visitors. Hyde should have a chance to bounce back but the mobile Kaepernick is already stealing rushing yards and not throwing to his running back.
Records Fall and Romo Stalls
Dak Prescott threw for a total of 177 career attempts before finally succumbing to an interception. That broke the old record of 162 set by Tom Brady back in 2003. Playing in perhaps his toughest venue yet, Prescott reeled off 247 yards and three touchdowns in Green Bay in what became a surprisingly thorough win. And that was with Dez Bryant on the sideline. The Cowboys go onto their bye this week and Tony Romo was expected to regain his starting spot when they faced the Eagles in Week 8. But the Cowboys are tied with the Patriots for the second best record in the NFL. And the staff and owner of the team have all softened on their certainty about Romo’s return. Sometimes the torch is passed and sometime it is just taken and never returned.
A Titan Change
The Titans head coach Mike Mularkey made improving the passing offense a priority and for the last two weeks it has worked. In the Week 5 win over the Dolphins, Mariota completed 20-of-29 passes for 163 yards and three touchdowns plus rushed for 60 yards and a score. Two of those touchdowns went to wide receivers though none gained more than 32 yards. In Week 6 in the win over the Browns, Mariota rushed for 64 yards and threw for 284 yards and three touchdowns. This time he rekindled his relationship with Kendall Wright (8-133, touchdown) and found Rishard Matthews for three completions to total 70 yards and one touchdown. Delanie Walker was held to a single catch and for the first time this year, Mariota relied primarily on his wide receivers with good results. With the Colts, Jaguars and Chargers up next, his opportunities will continue to prove profitable.
Scared Straight to the Waiver Wire
LeSean McCoy left the Bills win over the 49ers after suffering what appeared to be a very significant knee injury. But he was cleared to return and ended with 140 yards and three touchdowns on 19 carries. That performance pushed McCoy to the #1 ranking in fantasy scoring for most leagues. His current pace would result in 277 carries on the season for a player that hasn’t lasted for more than 203 runs – or 12 weeks – since 2014. Mike Gillislee ended that game with six runs for 60 yards that included a 44-yard rushing touchdown in the fourth quarter. If the McCoy owner doesn’t grab Gillislee from the waiver wire, he won’t get the chance when he needs him.
SF 16, BUF 45
Yeah, the switch to Colin Kaepernick made a difference. He threw for 187 yards and one score with 53 yards coming on the lone touchdown pass – otherwise the threw for just 134 yards but he did run for 88 yards. Nothing much else worked for the 49ers. LeSean McCoy appeared to blow out his knee but somehow returned a series later none the worse. He gained 140 yards and three touchdowns and has become nearly the entire Bills offense. The 49ers fall to 1-5 and host the Buccaneers this week. The 4-2 Bills are on a four game winning streak and head to Miami.
JAC 17, CHI 16
Not a ton of fantasy points out of this one. Allen Robinson (3-49) is still mostly MIA and Blake Bortles is a pumpkin again. Brian Hoyer did not score but threw for 302 yards with Cameron Meredith (11-113) now a continuing surprise and Alshon Jeffery (7-93) finally had a good game. But Jordan Howard (15-34) needed his touchdown to salvage his fantasy value. Now the 2-3 Jaguars will host the Raiders and the 1-5 Bears head to Green Bay.
LA 28, DET 31
The Rams defense is either dominating or invisible with not much in between. This week – not really there. Matt Stafford passed for 270 yards and four scores that went to all four wideouts. Golden Tate (8-165, TD) was apparently in hiding for the first five weeks switched places with Marvin Jones (2-10, TD). The answer to who would run the ball was actually Zack Zenner (14-58) which no one correctly guessed. The Rams got 321 yards and three scores from Case Keenum who ran in a touchdown as well. Kenny Britt (7-136, 2 TD) is trying to have his breakout season after eight years in the league. Todd Gurley totaled 97 yards but only rushed for 58 yards. Now the 3-3 Rams host the Giants and the 3-3 Lions host the Redskins.
PIT 15, MIA 30
I’m sorry – what? WHAT? After apparently suffering from carbon monoxide poisoning in the visitors locker room, the Steelers attempted to play but only managed 189 passing yards and one score by Ben Roethlisberger who temporarily left with a bad ankle but who was off the entire game. Antonio Brown (4-39) and Sammie Coates (4-0) were huge disappointments. Le’Veon Bell combined for 108 total yards and six receptions but did not score. They were beaten by
a band of zombies Navy Seals Chuck Norris Jay Ajayi who ran for…what? WHAT? 204 yards and two touchdowns. Yeah. So just be careful not to drive your car through that rip in Space and Time in Florida. The 4-2 Steelers host the Patriots this week and the 2-4 Dolphins host the Bills.
CIN 17, NE 35
This is what we expected though almost all of of it happened in the second half. The Bengals offense was never really in this and passed for just 254 yards and one score. A.J. Green was the top receiver with just 88 yards on six catches. But Tom Brady threw for 363 yards and three scores in his home opener with Rob Gronkowski (7-162, TD) and James White (8-47, 2 TD) the main targets. The Patriots rolled up 25 second half points to take the win handily. The Bengals fall to just 2-4 but host the Browns this week. The 5-1 Patriots head to Pittsburgh.
BAL 23, NYG 27
The game held surprisingly great stats considering it was 10-7 at the half and Manning looked like he was turning in another one of those bad games. But he blew up late and ended with 403 yard and three scores which mostly just went to Odell Beckham (8-222, 2 TD). Joe Flacco passed for 307 yards but no scores and Terrance West (23-87, 2 TD) was the best part of the offense. Mike Wallace (4-97) was good but no passing scores brought down the fantasy value. The 3-3 Ravens have lost their last three games and head to New York to face the Jets. The 3-3 Giants play in Los Angeles this week.
PHI 20, WAS 27
The mighty Eagles have lost their last two games and their only touchdowns in this game came on an interception and a punt return. The Eagles went to more of a committee with the running backs to little effect and only Jordan Matthews (3-75) gained more than 35 receiving yards. Kirk Cousins threw for 263 yards and two scores with Pierre Garcon (6-77) the top receiver. Jordan Reed was out and Vernon Davis managed two catches for 50 yards and one score as the replacement. Matt Jones rushed for 135 yards and one score and even Robert Kelley ran for 59 yards on five carries. Now the 3-2 Eagles host the Vikings and the 4-2 Redskins head to Detroit.
CLE 26, TEN 28
Have to love any game with the Browns in it – even the Titans come to life. Marcus Mariota passed for 284 yards and three scores but only completed one pass to Delanie Walker. Kendall Wright (8-133, TD) leaves your waiver wire for at least this week and Rishard Matthews (3-70, TD) stepped up as well but DeMarco Murray was held to only 65 yards and one score. Cody Kessler passed for 336 yards and two scores to Terrelle Pryor (9-75, 2 TD) and nothing else on this team mattered much. Now the
gift that keeps on giving 0-6 Browns travel to Cincinnati and the 3-3 Titans host the Colts.
KC 26, OAK 10
Jamaal Charles owners were happy to finally get 45 yards and a score but less thrilled that Spencer Ware totaled 162 yards and a touchdown. The run took over the game and no Chiefs had more than 49 receiving yards or scored. Amari Cooper turned in ten catches for 129 yards but no other Raider did much. Carr only passed 34 times and ended with just 225 yards and one score to Andre Holmes (2-11). The main take-away is that Jamaal Charles owners will never, ever, again draft an injured back again. At best there is a committee there and Charles isn’t the main guy yet. The 3-2 Chiefs will host the Saints and the 4-2 Raiders will play in Jacksonville.
DAL 30, GB 16
Tony who? Seriously – Tony who? The Cowboys won their fifth straight and an easy win in Green Bay says there are no flukes or weak schedules here. Dak Prescott finally threw an interception but he had three touchdowns as well. Ezekiel Elliott faced the #1 rushing defense, yawned, and then ran for 157 yards. Cole Beasley (6-58, 2 TD) is one of the bigger surprises this season. Aaron Rodgers passed for 294 yards but only one score to Randall Cobb (7-53) and the best receiver was Ty Montgomery (10-98). No denying the Cowboys have exceeded all expectations and that the Packers haven’t yet met many of their own. Now the 5-1 Cowboys go onto their bye and the 3-2 Packers host the Bears.
ATL 24, SEA 26
Yes, it was probably pass interference and it would have set up a winning field goal. But admitting that doesn’t make anyone feel any better. Matt Ryan threw for 335 yards and three scores that mostly benefited Julio Jones (7-139, TD) and the rushing effort was held to only 50 yards and no scores. Jimmy Graham (6-89) led the Seahawks receivers but all the scoring was either field goals or three rushing touchdowns with Christine Michael (18-64, 2 TD) being the main weapon. This was a close and very hard fought game that will just make the Falcons mad each time they think of it. Now the 4-2 Falcons will host the Chargers and the 4-1 Seahawks head to Arizona.
IND 23, HOU 26
For a game with only 49 total points, it was a fun way to end Sunday with some nice fantasy results. Frank Gore (22-106) had the rare 100 yard effort and Andrew Luck passed for 252 yards and a score but also ran for 53 and a touchdown as well. The receivers were mostly quiet though and Jack Doyle (4-53, TD) had just been dumped back on the waiver wire in every single league. Brock Osweiler passed for 269 yards and two scores but waited until the fourth quarter to do anything. DeAndre Hopkins (9-71) didn’t fare as badly as it seemed he would. Lamar Miller had been good for around 100 total yards and yet never scored but came away with a score as a rusher (24-149) and one as a receiver (3-29). The 2-4 Colts play in Tennessee this week while the 4-2 Texans head to Denver.
Huddle Player of the Week
Jay Ajayi – Odell Beckham and LeSean McCoy both had a few more fantasy points but how could we pass on recognizing a running back that went from a career high of 48 yards to rushing for 202 yards against the Steelers? He still has no 100 yard games technically. And to think he waited until Arian Foster returned and his owners finally made him a starter. This may never happen again but it happened this week.
Drama 101 – Somebody has to Laugh, Somebody has to Cry
|QB||Case Keenum||328||4||QB||Ben Roethlisberger||189||1|
|RB||Jay Ajayi||207||2||RB||Carlos Hyde||52||0|
|RB||Matt Jones||135||1||RB||Isaiah Crowell||36||0|
|WR||Kenny Britt||136||2||WR||Michael Crabtree||10||0|
|WR||Kendall Wright||133||1||WR||Antonio Brown||45||0|
|WR||Golden Tate||165||1||WR||Demaryius Thomas||35||0|
|TE||Levine Toliolo||69||1||TE||Delanie Walker||21||0|
|PK||Josh Lambo||4 FG 1 XP||PK||Chris Boswell||1 XP|
|Huddle Fantasy Points = 179||Huddle Fantasy Points = 32|
Sunday’s Couch Commentary
This was a great week with tons of monster games and 15 teams that scored 26 points or more. There were five missed extra points and oddly four teams with exactly 26 points. There are only two teams on bye this week (Dallas and Carolina) but in Weeks 8 and 9 there are six each so plan ahead.
CAR 38, NO 41
The beauty of this game was a ton of fantasy points and afterwards watching Cam Newton wearing yet another hat that just seems out of place in a tension filled “next question” sort of room. I’ve never really thought about it before, but I have come to the decision that hats are for winners. Even Newton should not break that rule.
The mighty Panthers defense apparently lost everything when Josh Norman left. They gave up 465 passing yards and four scores to Drew Brees and 173 yards and a score to Brandin Cooks. Michael Thomas (5-78, TD) and Coby Fleener (6-74, TD) both turned in good games though Willie Snead (4-47) was the only one not in the fun.
Cam Newton threw for 322 yards and two scores and rushed in the obligatory touchdown but Jonathan Stewart not only gained 85 yards on 19 runs like a real running back, but he rushed in two scores – his first of the year. Greg Olsen (6-94) and Kelvin Benjamin (8-86) at least had decent showings.
Will Lutz kicked the 52-yard winning field goal with only 16 seconds left to play.
It has been a great week with so much high scoring and a few exciting finishes. The Cowboys continue to defy expectations and Dak Prescott’s been so impressive that there’s only one reasonable thing for the Cowboys to do.
Buy that man a hat!
Now get back to work…